We don’t think it is the proper business of governing authorities to run religious bodies, and we don’t think it is the proper role of faith communities to sanction states by pronouncing divine blessing in exchange for material favours. Such a relationship is mutually corrupting. So we oppose on principle things like an Established church, blasphemy laws, religious leaders being given seats in executive chambers as of right, faith leaders being chosen by heads of state or prime ministers, publicly funded schools and services which allow discrimination on grounds of religion, claims by religious leaders to speak ‘for the nation’, and other vestiges of Christendom.
But we need something much more positive than ‘separation’ between church and state, as the US experience shows. We need a radical reformation in the social stance of religion, away from domination and control. The alternative, post-Christendom role for the churches in civil society is partnership and witness – working with others, demonstrating different values in practice, seeking to invite and persuade by example not force. A similar case can be made in other religious traditions.
Also, whether we are ‘religious’ or not, we all have to remember that while boundaries can be drawn, in the end our mutual flourishing depends upon relationships. Otherwise there is hell to pay. Let’s break the lock-chains, but keep the doors open.
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